Taiwan hopes for ICAO observer status headway

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 - Page 3

With the overwhelming backing of the US Congress, Taiwan hopes it can make substantial headway in its bid to obtain observer status at the next triennial Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in September, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

One day after a bill in support of Taiwan’s participation in the ICAO was unanimously adopted by the US House of Representative, the US Senate on Wednesday also unanimously passed the legislation by a voice vote.

Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director-general of the ministry’s Department of North American Affairs, said yesterday that the Republic of China was “sincerely thankful” that the US Congress gave its “full support” for the bid.

According to the ministry, the bill requires US Secretary of State John Kerry to develop a strategy to ensure that Taiwan is granted observer status at the ICAO Assembly and to submit a report to Congress to explain the US Department of State’s strategy no later than 30 days following the bill’s enactment.

Kerry was required to instruct the US mission to the ICAO to officially request observer status for Taiwan at the ICAO Assembly and to urge the organization’s member states to support such status and participation for Taiwan, the ministry said.

Since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in 2008, he decided to give up Taiwan’s annual quest for UN membership and instead sought “meaningful participation” in the world body’s agencies.

The Ma administration in 2009 declared the ICAO and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the next targets for the nation’s “meaningful participation” in UN agencies and said that in both bids, the nation would follow the model in which Taiwan was admitted to the World Health Assembly (WHA).

Taiwan has since May 2009 been invited to attend WHA meetings, by way of an annual invitation renewal letter sent by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan (陳馮富珍), an arrangement critics said was subject to annual renewal with China’s consent.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday that the strategy the ministry will adopt to obtain observer status at the ICAO Assembly this year “is still being formulated,” while the ministry in the meantime will continue to drum up support for the bid from all sectors of the international community.

In other news, the ministry expressed gratitude to the US House of Representatives for the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, which contained two revisions pertaining to Taiwan.

One of the measures calls on US President Barack Obama to sell no fewer than 66 F-16C/D multirole aircraft to Taiwan.

The second measure says the US should allow all high-level officials from Taiwan to enter the US or its embassies and consulates, and calls for all high-level Taiwanese officials to be able to meet with US officials in government offices, including the US Department of State and the Pentagon.

The proposals are still to be considered by the US Senate.